John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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I learn to swim

Early Days

 1. My Dad—often, but not always, my Mum would come too—continued to take Steven and me to the little swimming pool at Beechwood School on a Sunday afternoon[1]—we referred to it as “Beechwood Baths”. Sometimes we would see the Gorsts there—Mrs. Gorst and her pretty daughter Sandra—and play games in the water.
[1] My Dad… continued to take Steven and me to Beechwood Baths on a Sunday afternoon: See Beechwood Baths.
 2. Efforts to teach me to swim, when I was in Class 1 at Church Road County Primary School, had failed;[2] and it was only later, during our private visits to Beechwood Baths, that I gained confidence in the water by the use of an inflatable rubber ring round my chest under my armpits. (I think the use of such aids was frowned upon by swimming-teaching “professionals”.) And on one occasion, a small child was there at the same time as we were. She had a little rubber ring, and she asked me if she could borrow my larger one. So we swapped rings. And hers was too small for me to get it round my whole body, so I looped my right arm through it and swam with it round my shoulder. Then I thought, “This is hardly supporting me at all”; so I took it off—and I found I could swim unaided. What’s more, straight away, I could put my head under water, and dive beneath the surface and swim under water—everything I couldn’t do before.
[2] Efforts to teach me to swim… had failed: See Swimming lessons at Beechwood School.
David and Eileen
 3. From time to time we went to Beechwood Baths with other people; I can remember my Dad’s cousin David Gillott and his wife Eileen being there on more than one occasion. I used to think that Eileen was very attractive, and I couldn’t decide whether I preferred her in a swimsuit or a dress. The event that springs to mind is one where, on returning to her changing cubicle, she found that her dress had fallen on the floor and had got all wet and soiled, so on returning to our house, she borrowed a dress of my Mum’s. Afterwards, I had alternating mental pictures of her: Swimsuit?—dress?—swimsuit?—dress?…

Sandra Gorst—after September 1962
 4. After I had started my second year at Fleetwood Grammar School, in September 1962, my Dad reported that Sandra Gorst thought I was “stuck up”, because I hadn’t acknowledged her when she had spoken to me at school. (This information must have come to him through Sandra’s mother, for both she and my Dad worked at Norcross.)

“Beechwood School… Sometimes we would see the Gorsts there… she and my Dad worked at Norcross”, at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance
(1960’s aerial photo taken from Lancashire County Council Maps and Related Information Online)
 Sandra was younger than I was and started her first year when I entered the second. I wasn’t expecting to see her in this context—it seems, then, that we hadn’t met at Beechwood Baths for some time—and quite frankly I didn’t notice or hear her when she perhaps passed me on a corridor and spoke to me. A pity, because at Beechwood I had quite a crush on her!
How did I miss her? I clearly remember an article in Fleetwood Grammar School’s magazine The Georgian, No.62, Spring Term 1963, pages 25–26, by C. Senior, entitled “Denby Dale Pie”. Yet an article by Sandra appeared immediately above this one (page 25):

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